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Internationally acclaimed novelist Amos Oz grew up in war torn Jerusalem where as a boy he witnessed firsthand the poisonous conseuences of fanaticism In two concise powerful essays the award winning author offers uniue insight into the true nature of extremism and proposes a reasoned and respectful approach to resolving the Israeli Palestinian conflict He also comments on related issues the Gaza pullout Yasser Arafat's death and the war in Ira in an extended interview at the end of the bookThe brilliant clarity of these essays coupled with Oz's ironic sense of humor in illuminating the serious breathes new life into this old debate Oz argues that the Israeli Palestinian conflict is not a war of religion or cultures or traditions but rather a real estate dispute one that will be resolved not by greater understanding but by painful compromiseFresh insightful and inspiring How to Cure a Fanatic brings a new voice of sanity to the cacophony on Israeli Palestinian relations a voice no one can afford to ignore


10 thoughts on “How to Cure a Fanatic

  1. says:

    One thing I always in any conflict is that always paint one group as righteous and the other group as wrongdoers one group as good guys and the other group as a bad guys one group as a victim who deserve our sympathy and another group as a villain who will be denigrated and stand accused of everythingBut this euation sometimes doesn’t work and it doesn’t work especially in Israeli Palestinian conflictThere is no good guys versus bad guys in this conflict but two righteous owners of the same land in which there is two different claim about the same landIn the past both the Arab and Israeli denied each other existence and tried unsuccessfully in the Arab side to militarily erase Israel from the mapfortunately the failed and after six wars the neighbouring Countries have accepted the Israeli right ti exist in IsraelBut what about Palestinian who rotted in refugee camp around the world what would happen to them will they always be stateless for eternityIt is easy to paint Israeli as the bad guys in the region as they are most developed nation in the region but who is Goliath and who is David depends in which scale you are looking atIf it comes to Israeli Palestinian conflict we can paint the Easily the Israeli as Goliath but if you enlarge your perspective a little and used bigger scale then Israel will be the victim in the region I mean being entrapped in region where almost three hundred Arabs hates it and vowed to destroy it in this case Israeli will be the nice guys in that regionWhat the author tries to tell is compromise and negotiations is what this conflict need to end I mean to Israel to accept there would be no greater Israel and for Palestinian there would be no greater PalestineThis compromise which is hard to go through for both Israeli and Palestine is what this conflict needs as this conflict is real Estate problem not religious problem as many Muslim and Jewish extremist tries to paintAbout the Fanaticism which is now became like the virus spreading around Muslim world and also in Western world as far right is getting and chairs in Western governmentWhat about Fanaticism attracted me in my youth was the ability for the fanatic to sacrifice his life for his beliefs but in growing older I became rational and kind scared for sacrificing my life for any goal whatsoeverBeing fanatic is easy for any human but being understanding and trying to put your self in other shoes trying to imagine what the other feels and what being the other could beBut sometimes it feels really tiring to talk with fanatic with people who believe Jews control the world and US with people who believe homosexuality is disease and throwing gays out of high building is great way to reduce homosexuals in the societypeople who believe who believe every western nation are secretly trying to destroy IslamTalking with people with this mindset and trying to be the devil advocate can be very tiring sometimesBut one the solution to fanaticism is literature because literature allows you to put yourself in the shoes of other and also humour you don't see Terrorist in who have good sense of humour and also trying to be with the people you have prejudice against them can heal fanatic in your heart


  2. says:

    Almost uaint in its optimism I grabbed it to occupy my anxious mind and begin dismantling a couple of literal piles next to our bed


  3. says:

    A nice lady in Knoxville Tennessee attended one of my talks in the States this October During lunch break she sat next to me started searching inside her bag and picked up a tiny book “I’m enjoying this very much” she said “How I wish and pray his ideas will come to pass” One month later the book was sent to me by mail and I found out the lady’s name was JulieThis was looking good 1 Someone got me a book always a delightful gesture 2 “How to Cure a Fanatic” Great title plus I had wanted to read from Amos Oz 3 It looked like I could finish it in one day 4 Julie spoke so highly of this book it must be goodOhKayErUhOhNNo Halfway through the book I was grunting already In than one instance Amos Oz justifies war and in than one occasion he insists on separation The idea of separation may be the political deal real estate solution compromise splitting the apartment necessity he says it is but as an author who has greater vision and who writes a book titled “How to Cure a Fanatic” I expected I was looking perhaps for a broader perspective; a global human perspective that acknowledges the rights of people as who they are rather than on what their ethnicity dictates But Oz is persistent on ethnicity; he insists on separation “with a pre dominantly Jewish majority” and on leaving “the Palestinian people with a homeland that is smaller than Israel” specifying that this would be the West Bank and Gaza He also suggests that the solution to the Palestinian refugees’ problem is to “re settle them in the West Bank or Gaza or elsewhere”; adamant that those refugees cannot live in Israel because then ‘there would be two Palestinian states and no Israel’ I was struggling with these ideas and suggestions because they were emphasizing on the “us” vs “them” stereotypical mentality aided by the presumption that people are one sided and collectively pro division without even considering the complexities of having people stuck in between “Good fences make good neighbors” he uotes Robert Frost which actually brings to mind the relevant uestion Mark Thomas brought forth in another book I recently finished “If good fences make good neighbors what about bad ones?” What Amos Oz fails to notice is that these aren't exactly eual any Yes they may have both been victims of the same oppressor but one of these victims is the occupying force at this point Oz tells us that there are some conflicts that are easy bringing examples of Fascism Nazism anti fascism Colonialism de colonization apartheid the war on Vietnam and says that in these examples “every decent human being knew where to stand even if you woke them in the middle of the night if you were a decent human being you knew where you stood” The Middle East is not one of those he reasons “That is a tragic conflict of right and right and most often wrong and wrong” But is it possible that while all of the above mentioned examples were going on people at the time also thought those matters were “complex” and that “both sides may be right”? The difference between those examples and the reality of today is that while those examples are in the past this one is taking place before our eyes A lot of South Africans have said that the Israeli Occupation is in fact much worse than what apartheid was All of that said I did learn uite a few things from this book One idea he clarifies is that Arabs often fail to see that Israelis are also the victims of the same oppressor “In Arabic literature the Jew especially the Israeli Jew is often pictured as an extension of the white sophisticated tyrannizing colonizing cruel heartless Europe of the past They are depicted as the colonialists who came to the Middle East once again this time disguised as Zionists to tyrannize to colonize and to exploit Very often Arabs even some sensitive Arab writers fail to see us as what we Israeli Jews really are – a bunch of half hysterical refugees and survivors traumatized not only by Europe but also by the way we were treated in Arabic and Islamic countries” More importantly the lesson I learned from this book is this Do not judge a book by its first half Despite my occasional grunting and lack of approval I’m glad I kept on reading I had serious issues with “Between Right and Right” and the Interview third part but the mid section “How to Cure a Fanatic” was actually pretty good In that section I felt like Oz and I could be potential buddies who see eye to eye He speaks about SPOILER ALERT imagination as one of the cures from fanaticism and notes some specific sources like Shakespeare Gogol Kafka William Faulkner and Yehuda Amichai A sense of humor he adds is necessary the ability to laugh at ourselves and see ourselves as others Reading these parts I knew exactly why Julie thought I would enjoy this book She knew I would agree with this “Fanaticism is contagious” he warns “Fanatics are often sarcastic” he says “but they have no humor” I know exactly what you mean Ozzy I want to say hey you and I share a similar upbringing after all “My own childhood in Jerusalem rendered me an expert in comparative fanaticism” he says and at this point I want to high five the man And it gets better He now he speaks of “traitors” – another idea I often think about; “What makes us traitors?” he poses “Only he who loves might become a traitor Treason is not the opposite of love; it is one of its many options The traitor is the one who changes in the eyes of those who cannot change and would not change and hate change and cannot conceive of change except that they always want to change you” A fanatic he continues is interested in you than in himself; he is out there to change you rather than let you be This is all good stuff as is the continuing point about the perception of victimization “Both Palestinians and Israelis have internalized the self image of being a victim which in turn creates self righteousness neurosis and insecurity” Oz encourages us to imagine the other; imagine oneself in the place of the other and think about how we as humans are islands on one hand and merging with our societies on the other My pal here even brings up an example from Monty Python and makes us think of the misleading concept of “Happily ever after” and “Instant Happiness” and “Everlasting Happiness” in a wise message “Everlasting happiness is no happiness just like an everlasting orgasm is no orgasm at all”After the imaginary high fives and temporary excitement however when I go through the book again I get that disturbing feeling once Other reviewers on goodreads have also said that it doesn’t uite work Amos Oz almost seems to contradict himself and his points don’t follow through In my thinking I am sure I like him much as the buddy I found in him in that chapter He would be the kind of friend I would genuinely like but would avoid talking politics with which is unfortunate because you would expect from the two of us


  4. says:

    I'm not impressed Mr Oz correctly asserts that both Israelis and Palestinians have made mistakes and will need to make tough compromises in order to end the conflict However Mr Oz draws a simplistic and unrealistic euivalency between the Israelis and Palestinians This is the unsound foundation upon which he predicates his arguments Mr Oz completely ignores historical and current power imbalances between the State of Israel with its fully developed military machine and nuclear capability and the Palestinians who have security forces but no military The state of Israel also has a fully functional economy while Israeli military occupation and limitations have hampered economic development in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip So yes compromises need to be made but and this is a big but it is simply foolish to imply that these compromises are being made by two eual players in the conflict Or two parties with eually right claims to land in the area Mr Oz also sticks to the standard line that Arab rejectionism is the reason that no solution was reached in 1948 From the extensive reading I have done on the topic this simplistic assertion ignores the complex situation at the time and only serves to blame the resulting 60 years of conflicts on the Palestinians Mr Oz also alludes to his military service claiming he would fight again if Israel faced an existential threat He says that he is not ashamed to have fought in 1967 and 1973 Implicit then in his lack of regret for having fought in those wars is that Israel was facing destruction during both of these conflicts Again Mr Oz ignores history and relies on popular myth and revisionist claims in this case The reason that the nascent Israelis won their first war in 1948 is that they were better armed better trained and better organized than certainly the Palestinians but also their Arab neighbors This continued to be the case and is still the case It is not to put too fine a point on it propaganda to keep trotting out the old saw that Israelis must continue to fight endless wars in order to stave off annihilation I'm glad that Mr Oz wants peace but I don't think he has truly opened his eyes to the asymmetrical situation created by the war in 1948 and perpetuated by the well armed US backed military might of the State of Israel


  5. says:

    pages 88 99I have never once in my life seen a fanatic with a sense of humor nor have I ever seen a person with a sense of humor become a fanatic unless he or she has lost that sense of humor Fanatics are often sarcastic Some of them have a very pointed sense of sarcasm but no humor Humor contains the ability to laugh at ourselves Humor is relativism humor is the ability to see yourself as others may see you humor is the capacity to realize that no matter how righteous you are and how terribly wronged you have been there is a certain side to life that is always a bit funny The right you are the funnier you become


  6. says:

    This book by a leader of the Israeli peace movement was recommended to meThe title is provocative than the writingOz sees the political leaders of both the Israelis and the Palestinians as fanatics and a growing number of the citizens on both sides as pragmatic I'm not fully informed in the details but his solution seems that the Palestinians give up that the Israelis which for me hurts his credibility as an honest brokerHe has some food for thought He notes that both sides have a lot in common both have roots in the disputed territory and neither group is welcomed elsewhere He observes that fanatics have no imagination or sense of humor He doesn't connect the dots but the implication is that some can be cured by uestioning or reading novels that cause them to think He says fanatics think they are doing good like the overbearing parent that thinks anything is permitted to mold the child The book is really an essay It ends with a dated interview that repeats some of the ideas of the book


  7. says:

    I am not going to make things any easier for you by saying simply these are the angels these are the devils It is a clash between right and right The Jews were kicked out of EuropeThere is no other country in the world which the Jews could ever call home The Palestinians have tried to live in other Arab countries They were rejected They are Palestinians and that’s the only country which they can hold on to Some conflicts are very real; they are much worse than a mere misunderstanding What we need is a painful compromise For me the word compromise means life The opposite of compromise is fanaticism and death It is a route paved with shattered dreams and broken illusions and injured hopes and blown up slogans from the past on both sides In my vocabulary war is terrible yet the ultimate evil is not war but aggression When you recognize aggression you have to fight against it Love is a rare commodity We need imagination a deep ability to imagine the other sometimes to put ourselves in the skin of the other Good fences make good neighbors – Robert Frost The Israeli Palestinian is essentially a conflict between two victims Some of the worst conflicts are precisely the conflicts between two victims of the same oppressor Israel is indeed one large Jewish refugee camp There is a deep ignorance on both sides not political ignorance about the purposes and the goals but about the backgrounds about the deep traumas of the two victims I expect a fair and just divorce between Israel and Palestine The two divorcing parties are definitely staying in the same apartment No one is moving out And the apartment being very small Issue of the refugees is a time bomb September 11th – ancient struggle between fanaticism and pragmatism Between fanaticism and pluralism Between fanaticism and tolerance September 11th evoked sadness anger disbelief shock melancholy disorientation Everyone screams no one ever listens I have called myself an expert of comparative fanaticism The seed of fanaticism always lies in uncompromising righteousness Fanatics are hopelessly sentimental – lack imagination Heaven is usually conceived like the everlasting happiness Conformity and uniformity are mild but widespread forms of fanaticism The worship of glamorous individuals may well be another widespread form of fanaticism Everlasting happiness is no happiness The essence of fanaticism lies in the desire to force other people to change Fanatic is interested in you than in himself Bin Laden essentially loves you by his way of thinking September 11th was a labour of love He did it for your own good he wants to change you he wants to redeem you Literature is the answer Literature contains an antidote to fanaticism by injecting imagination into its readers Read literature and you will be cured of your fanaticism Shakespeare can help a great deal Every form of fanaticism in Shakespeare ends up either in a tragedy or in a comedy Gogol can help too Gogol makes his readers grotesuely aware of how little we know Kafka is a good educator in this respect Kafka shows us that there is darkness and enigma and mockery even when we think we have done nothing wrong at all That helps And William Faulkner can help A sense of humour is a great cure Fanatics are often sarcastic Humour is relativism Writing a novel for instance involves among other burdens the need to get up every morning drink a cup of coffee and start imagining the other What if I were she what if you were he And in my own personal background in my own personal life story and family story I can’t help thinking very often that with a slight twist of my genes or of my parents’ circumstances I could be him or her I could be a Jewish West Bank settler I could be an ultra orthodox extremist I could be an oriental Jew from a third world country I could be anyone I could be one of my enemies Imagining this is always a helpful practice My role model is still the peaceful divorce between the Czechs and the Slovaks when they mutually agreed to dismantle Czechoslovakia into two nation states Each party knows that the other is real The term Arab Spring is false and misleading The dictatorships will collapse like dominos and democracy will prosper Literature – reading imagination humour and empathy There are strong antidotes to fanaticism in Chekhov Thomas Mann I don’t believe in a clash between East and West or between Islam and the secular West It is the clash between fanatics You can bomb the installations you cannot bomb the know how


  8. says:

    No man is an island said John Donne but I humbly dare to add No man or woman is an island but every one of us is a peninsula half attached to the mainland half facing the ocean – one half connected to family and friends and culture and tradition and country and nation and sex and language and many other things and the other half wanting to be left alone to face the oceanI think we ought to be allowed to remain peninsulas Every social and political system that turns each of us into a Donnean island and the rest of humankind into an enemy or a rival is a monster But at the same time every social and political and ideological system that wants to turn each of us into no than a molecule of the mainland is also a monstrosity The condition of peninsula is the proper human condition That's what we are and that's what we deserve to remainOz isn't revelatory but he makes a few very good points on the value of compromise humour and empathy No less relevant ten years on if slightly outdated in terms of the challenges faced


  9. says:

    This was a very disappointing book on many levels Oz was only interesting when off topic – he made some good points about globalization for instance but on the subject of the IsraeliPalestinian conflict he offered little that was new and in fact little in the way of a coherent argument at allLots of readers have commended this book for its neutrality – I just don’t see it There are many implied ideas in the first essay which do not suare with the apparent explicit theme of the book but which left me clear as to where Oz’s own loyalties lie After I’d read it I felt like the author had been fighting every last word that he’d written as if he wanted to say something entirely different That was very off puttingWe live in a world where writers especially of fiction are thought to be fonts of wisdom This book is proof that some fiction writers make lousy social commentators


  10. says:

    A little book about a big and never ending issue fanaticism Why are people radicalized? How do we stop them?In the shadow of 911 Amos Oz tried to be a voice of reason in a young country torn by extremist views and conflictsBut it isn’t as simple as a good guys vs bad guys thing Both Arabs and Jews have territorial rights and rights to their own culture he claims“No man is an island said John Donne but I humbly dare to add No man or woman is an island but every one of us is a peninsula half attached to the mainland half facing the ocean – one half connected to family and friends and culture and tradition and country and nation and sex and language and many other things and the other half wanting to be left alone to face the oceanI think we ought to be allowed to remain peninsulas Every social and political system that turns each of us into a Donnean island and the rest of humankind into an enemy or a rival is a monster But at the same time every social and political and ideological system that wants to turn each of us into no than a molecule of the mainland is also a monstrosity The condition of peninsula is the proper human condition That's what we are and that's what we deserve to remain” This was a nice and thoughtful read but to be honest I don’t think his approach will solve any problems The wounds are too deep